The Extras: A Celebration of Movement

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Hello, Brunonian family! I’m Jacklyne Vargas, nice to meet you all *insert imaginary handshakes here*! I’m here to be your compass (well, that sounds heavy, doesn’t it?) in everything extracurricular here at Brown. If you’re reading this, send help you are a magnetic force of your own and I’m simply helping you figure out what attracts you. In all The Extras, in all the magnetic forces here at Brown, you can easily be pulled in countless directions, but I’m here to help! If anything, we’ll go crazy together…

History. The very word makes you think of the past. Distant smiles and glowing silhouettes courtesy of a setting sun; wind whipping through and tousling long locks of chestnut hair; warm hugs in the midst of mental chaos.

All these memories are ones I’ve experienced while at Brown, but I find that they’re one-sided when attempting to conceptualize history. I see history as a living organism, full of constantly evolving complexities and infinitely far-reaching. Its hosts, its sources of life, number over 7 billion and, as such, history metamorphoses on a grand scale daily. Recently, I had the privilege to experience a fraction of that grandeur.

This weekend, Brown held its fall celebration of our 250th anniversary. And regardless of what you may or may not have heard about it, I promise you it’s so much more than tons of free food yay for broke college students and fancy decorations.

What I love the most about the celebrations are the recognition of our history’s enduring and active presence in our lives.

At the dedication of the Slavery Memorial, we recognize “Brown University’s connection to the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the work of Africans and African-Americans, enslaved and free, who helped build our university, Rhode Island, and the nation.” In this connection, we recognize the strides made toward equality of opportunity in academic institutions like Brown. From marginalization to liberation to dedication onward.

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Our past, so fundamentally important to the advancement of and for our future, is one I am proud we, as a university, are actively acknowledging here and now. Just as Memorial sculptor, Martin Puryear, detailed in his remarks, the Memorial is purposely designed to be left to interpretation; in this private interpretation, I believe we all can reap, not only the knowledge, but also the incentive and drive to be a community of forward-thinkers, ones who abandon prejudice and discrimination.

At our Brown v. Harvard football game, the energy emanating from the crowd was one that crackled in the air like the resonant sound of thunder after lightening. Now, I’m not a big football fan (not out of choice, but rather because I don’t understand it #sadface) but if there was ever a college football game to attend, it was certainly this one. In hearing the voices of students, family, and alumni chant “Go Bruno!” I was awed at the history being made in those very moments. People from all walks of life, old and young, foreign and domestic, in unison, made history.

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There were a variety of events to attend this weekend, with ample chances to socialize, eat tons of food shamelessly, discuss social justice issues, and so on, but I won’t get into all of these (we would be here all night). Instead, I’ll share the simple, but the significant. People-watching.

With hundreds upon hundreds of alumni roaming campus with their wives/husbands, kids, and dogs (literally!) in tow, you would think they would act almost as an aberration amongst current students. But I found the exact opposite to be true. Alumni sat among us on the Main Green, ate next to us in the Blue Room, walked next to us down busy Thayer Street, and nothing was out of place, nothing felt out of place. They integrated so seamlessly into our lives here, and that, I believe, speaks to the open-armed community Brown cultivates. As I watched the young and the aged don their Brown garments, headgear, pins, I couldn’t help but feel at home with all.

We are all walking, living, breathing, history. And all of us Brunonians jointly wove our 250 years’ worth of history this weekend.

Therefore, I refuse to think of history as stagnant and entrenched in the past. Rather, here at Brown, we celebrate the living, exhilarating movement of history.

All my love,

Jackie

Don’t hesitate to leave any questions, comments, frustrations, tirades, rants, chocolates, inquiries or suggestions (I’d love your input) either below or in my email,  jacklyne_vargas@brown.edu! I’m seriously excited to interact with you all… Seriously. Have a delightful day!

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